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Rock show, party mark closure of Greenfield Bridge over Parkway East

| Thursday, July 9, 2015, 11:03 p.m.
The city of Pittsburgh has budgeted $19 million to replace the crumbling Greenfield Bridge.
Guy Wathen | Trib Total Media
The city of Pittsburgh has budgeted $19 million to replace the crumbling Greenfield Bridge.
The Greenfield Community Association plans to sell t-shirts to commemorate the Greenfield Bridge Party on Oct. 17, the day before the bridge is set to close. A price was not available. For more information, visit gcapgh.org/bridge.
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The Greenfield Community Association plans to sell t-shirts to commemorate the Greenfield Bridge Party on Oct. 17, the day before the bridge is set to close. A price was not available. For more information, visit gcapgh.org/bridge.

Before crews shut down, implode and rebuild a 94-year-old bridge that has become a symbol of infrastructure decay, Greenfield will host a rock concert on the eve of its namesake bridge's demise to ease the strain 20 months of construction will put on businesses.

“As a community, we really want to pull together,” said City Councilman Corey O'Connor, D-Swisshelm Park, who represents the neighborhood.

On Oct. 17, the day before the bridge closes, O'Connor, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and the Greenfield Community Association will host the “Greenfield Bridge Rock Away the Blues Party.”

The free event will feature a performance by Joe Grushecky and The Houserockers, and an opening set from the band Milly. Donations and sponsorships will support businesses expected to be hurt by the bridge closing.

Steven Teague, owner of Crucial Computers on Greenfield Avenue, said he isn't sure what to expect. The bridge, he said, is a lifeline for Greenfield residents to reach Oakland and Squirrel Hill.

“It's starting to hit home that this is going to be a reality,” said Teague, a Greenfield resident. “A lot of people are going to have to change their routines.”

Some of his customers come from outside the area, so he's concerned about traffic jams or confusing detours.

“It's going to affect people's ease of access,” he said. “It's going to make things very hard on people.”

Greenfield is a residential and local business hub that borders the Parkway East. The bridge spans I-376.

O'Connor said the event in October will “showcase the neighborhood,” and draw attention to its community fabric amid the construction.

The association hopes funds can support improvements to transit, pedestrian, recreation and cycling facilities. Among its fundraising plans: a raffle to win the chance to push the plunger and implode the bridge in December.

The Greenfield Bridge has been featured in national news reports, including on “60 Minutes,” as an example of the country's neglected infrastructure.

Local and national officials host news conferences in front of the “bridge-under-a-bridge” — highlighting a platform constructed under the original span to protect cars on the parkway from debris crumbling from the structure. Netting fixed to the bridge has prevented chunks of loose concrete from falling.

“No one's really looking forward to it, but obviously it's something that has to be done,” O'Connor said.

The $19 million project will include a temporary Parkway East closure to allow for the bridge implosion in the winter, and construction through May 2017.

Susan Merenstein, a registered pharmacist and owner of Murray Avenue Apothecary, said the bridge's demolition will dramatically alter traffic patterns.

Businesses, she said, will stick together.

“I'll have (promotional) material out for some of the businesses,” she said. “A lot of these places have really great reputations.”

Melissa Daniels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8511 or mdaniels@tribweb.com.

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